International Etiquette Tips – For travelers on business or on vacation
Long plane trips give you plenty of time to think. On my 8-hour drive back from vacation this summer, I started thinking about how easy my work trip to-do list would be, even on a casual summer vacation like this one. Sometimes international travelers head to the airport without thinking twice about how their destination is different from their country of origin, or how their customs and manners might fit into another culture. In my opinion, it’s always best to prepare before you go abroad: just a little homework before a trip can make it easier to adjust to a new place and show respect for your host country and its customs.
My business trip to-do list
- Research local customs. A little background work in the host country can give you an advantage with a potential partner or client: it will show that you are serious about the value of your business relationships and that you respect their culture. Researching local customs and manners is perhaps most important; It can save you from many embarrassing blunders. Look for procedures and differences in handshakes, introductions and titles, dress codes, dining and table manners, body language, and appropriate arrival times.
- Research current affairs. Before your trip, follow the news about your destination country. It is useful for preparing you for different climates or political atmospheres, as well as for keeping up dinner conversations with your hosts. A note of caution: Avoid discussing anything controversial – you don’t want to jeopardize your work relationship with argumentative small talk or dinner discussions.
- Learn some new words. Even though you probably do business in English, don’t assume you can handle it everywhere. Learning a few key words or phrases in your native language can help you get out of a difficult situation – and again, it can show your hosts that you’ve invested time and effort in learning about their culture.
- Prepare the host’s gift. It’s a nice gesture to show your appreciation to your host with a gift. But first and foremost, make sure it’s acceptable—culturally and according to company policy—for a business guest to give a gift. Once you’ve determined that, a small gift that represents your hometown or county is a nice way to share your culture, too. Make sure to investigate what it is Not Appropriate: For example, in India a cow is considered sacred, so you wouldn’t want to give anything made of leather or leather to an Indian host.
Just a few preparations before a business trip will not only make a good impression on your hosts, but will also make you feel more confident about yourself when you’re planning to move around in a completely unfamiliar place. And that trust can make all the difference in establishing that business partnership or closing a successful deal!